Around virtually every corner, visitors to British Columbia’s Cariboo are rewarded with breathtaking vistas begging to be explored.
From expansive, tree-lined lakes to desert-like hoodoos, from rivers carving winding paths through mountain valleys and rolling grasslands to the historic towns along their banks, the Cariboo is, as they say, a land without limits.
What happens to these lands when the snowflakes fall and waters freeze? Winter brings a new perspective – a landscape temporarily transformed into something altogether different, but equally beautiful.
At Williams Lake’s Scout Island, falling temperatures create a winter wonderland, where a stroll along 2.5 kilometres of lake- and marsh-front trails brings Mother Nature’s winter world into focus. Other destinations to leisurely consider her winter worldview include the River Valley trail along Williams Creek or the Riverfront Trail in Quesnel, overlooking the mighty Fraser and Quesnel rivers.
While a quiet descends with the snow in the Cariboo, you’ll find it broken here and there by the rhythmic swoosh of cross-country skis gliding along groomed trails at Bull Mountain, near Williams Lake or the Nordics Ski Club at 100 Mile House. Here, amid its 45 kilometres of groomed trails, five kilometres of illuminated night ski trails provide a whole new view of this winter wonderland!
Head north to explore the 75-kilometre-long trail system for skis or snowshoes at Hallis Lake, including four kilometres of lit track for nighttime skiing and eight kilometres of designated dog trails.
Where hiking might lead in the summer, come winter, crunching snowshoes will transport you to as-yet undiscovered destinations, best enjoyed during a rest stop with a hot mug of tea in hand. No matter how you get there, the journey will be half the fun, and the destination so worth the effort!
And at destinations like Jack of Clubs Lake, enjoyed from shore or by boat three seasons of the year, winter brings a frozen surface ideal for skis or snowshoes. Warm up after the day’s adventures in Wells, sipping a hot cocoa as you stroll among the colourful buildings and historic streets, dressed in their winter finery.
Avid anglers have a wholly different perspective on their chosen passion come winter. Where trout might have jumped for a buzzing fly against a setting summer sun, a solid sheet of ice presents a new challenge. And the rewards for the patient – and hardy – can be grand!
Bring your auger and fishing gear to McCleese Lake as you soak in the peace, quiet and views and wait for the big one to bite. Farther north, stop at the Quesnel Visitor Centre to borrow an auger, rod and gear, then head to Dragon Lake to drop your line for a magnificent rainbow trout. Don’t forget a chair, hand warmers and your thermos!
For adventure-seekers, winter brings not only new viewscapes, but new ways to see them. Two wheels may turn to two skids as you climb mountains atop a sled or Skidoo.
But if the real draw is in coming down the mountain via skis or snowboard, a visit to Mt. Timothy Recreation Resort near Williams Lake and Troll Resort, 44 kilometres east of Quesnel, offers both snowy thrills and sky-high vistas of the Cariboo back country.
A unique way to explore off-the-beaten-track views throughout the Cariboo is via the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail, where you can ride your winter-suited mountain bike or snowmobile through the communities of 70 Mile House in the south, to Lac la Hache, Horsefly, Likely and as far north as Wells. Hundreds of kilometres long and maintained by volunteers, be sure to familiarize yourself with your route, conditions and safety rules before you head out.
Where will your winter explorations take you? To view this iconic British Columbia landscape in a whole new way, visit explorecariboo.com